Although Darwin’s Finches are the more famous birds who influenced Charles Darwin's early thoughts about natural selection, it was actually his study of the Mockingbirds on the archipelago that had the greatest influence on his work. There are 4 species of Mockingbird on the islands, but the Galapagos Mockingbird is the most widespread and therefore the one most visitors encounter.
Galapagos Mockingbirds are renowned for their inquisitiveness - they will often come over to check you out, rather than flying away. In fact some of the guests on Galapatours naturalist cruises have told us that Mockingbirds have come and perched on their heads! The guides on our tours have a wealth of knowledge about all the bird species on the island, and will make sure you have the best chances of meeting them face to face for yourself.
As the name implies, the Galapagos Mockingbird mimics (or “mocks”) different calls and sounds made by other species. They nest in trees or cacti, but they spend a lot of their time on the ground, and can often be seen running in and out of the ground cover looking for food. One noteworthy sub-species is the Hood mockingbird, also known as the Española mockingbird. This fearless, and sometimes aggressive little bird is a clever scavenger, and it has even been seen feeding on the blood of wounded (but very much alive) sea birds - the Galapagos Islands' own vampire!
The Galapagos Mockingbird is not classed as threatened, and seems to be doing well. However, one of the sub- species is under great threat - the extremely rare Floreana Mockingbird. Floreana was the first island to be populated by settlers, and this drove its native Mockingbird to the edge of extinction. Now there are thought to be less than 150 of this species left, confined to two small islets off the coast of Floreana. The National Park is going to great lengths to try and stabilise these fragile populations.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Mockingbird
- Galapagos Mockingbirds prefer to run rather than fly
- Mockingbirds can often be seen riding on the backs of iguanas!
- Mockingbirds of Española have been seen drinking blood from wounds on iguanas
- Galapagos Mockingbirds are thriving, and not currently under threat